Katie Roiphe has been exploring her fantasies again, and I wish she'd stop. I don't mean the one about being tied up and spanked – not a thing wrong with that one. I mean the one in which scary, scowling feminists tell her what a bad girl she is for wanting it.
A quick primer for those who missed it: in this week's Newsweek cover story (complete with faux-scandalous cover image of a bored and blindfolded gamine), Roiphe argues that the success of the Twilight-fanfic-turned-romance-novel 50 Shades of Grey, as well as the sexual escapades depicted in the pilot of the much-ballyhoo'ed HBO project Girls, indicate a re-emergence of women's perrenial compulsion to get bossed around in bed. She then goes on to claim that this "trend" exposes the supposed facts that feminists (who, in her delusion, only want you do to it gently side-by-side with the lights on and Enya playing) are against female submission, and that women are uncomfortable with having power.
Allow me to exercise my feminist power to say this: there's a reason she provides precious little evidence to back up either claim. They're both bunk.
I'll agree with Roiphe on two fronts. First, it's notable that the current craze centers around a story (the one in 50 Shades) that requires our heroine to submit primarily out of love, not out of any kinky desires of her own. Most actual feminists who concern themselves with the sexual realm are focused on creating a world in which all women have genuine agency. We want to create a world where women are free to explore our desires and bodies for our own pleasure, not just use them to bribe men into loving us....
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